Thursday, 6 May 2010

You Spin Me Round

In my recent post ‘Go East’ I photographed the Nene Valley Railway’s collection of locos all positioned heading east.  This came about because of The Pines Express event that featured turntable demonstrations.  The locos had to be turned round once again ready for the coming weekend’s normal service, and Wednesday was chosen for that purpose.  No passenger trains were running, but the line had been hired for a private charter with both 44422 and 73050 in service that day, so the opportunity was taken to turn both locos during the lunch break.  Fortunately I happened to have a day off work on Wednesday, and equally fortuitously, I happened to need to visit Wansford to drop some stuff off.

It’s a pity I didn’t get there earlier as I missed both locos double-heading out to Peterborough.  But the garden needed doing, and it was the only day my gardener was available at short notice (you don’t think I do it myself, do you?  If there’s one activity I find more tedious than filling in tax returns, it’s gardening).  However, after dropping the stuff off and having a coffee and a chat in the cafe, I managed to film the arrival back at Wansford, albeit tender first.  Then both locos were turned on the manual turntable; 44422 first followed by the heavier 73050.  All went well with the 4F, but the Standard 5 proved more troublesome as the turntable came to a halt around 10 feet from the end of the turn.  Cue lots of manhandling; expended energy (not mine); lots of bad words my mother wouldn’t approve of (again, not mine.  For once) until the good old fashioned answer turned up – a man with a big stick.  Respect – that’s how I fix things.  After some poking around in the depths and a good whack or two the blockage was freed, and 73050 joined 44422 for the afternoon runs.

I filmed departure over Wansford Bridge, then nipped round in the car to Orton Mere where I was lucky enough, despite having to negotiate the school run, to capture the passing of the train.  Then in readiness for the final return run boiler first to Wansford, I walked to Yacht Club crossing as there is a good run up on a bend here.  As the train was operating private hire with photo run pasts, there was no schedule – it was a case of waiting it out until the participants ran out of film, battery life or interest.  This turned out to be a long two hours that I hadn’t expected.  Annoyingly, I could hear the whistles every so often and knew where the train was – but as many a photographer knows only too well, if you pack up and walk down to meet the train, it will leave and you’ll miss it.  Fortunately I had Custard Creams and a drink on standby, as well as a book to read in the unusually dry weather so it wasn’t too much of a hardship.  If I can spend hours standing in fields of snow for the Santa Specials, I can cope with a warm and dry level crossing.

When the train finally returned the end results were worth the wait, especially as it was such an unusual event to capture some double-heading.  All locos are now back in their rightful places, and 73050 will shortly be reunited with its nameplates – normal service will resume!


  1. On the same page with you about gardening. I haven't seen our lawn mower for some years. Lovely shots...and yes, I know what you mean about walking away and the train comes as you drive off. Just mention to Mrs RM about the "Blanche leaving Minfford" My right ear is still sore after that. I was convinced she was coming towards

  2. This is one of the few areas in life where I've learned from my mistakes. A train might be running late, and I'd think - well five minutes away is an even better location - only to be passed by by proposed subject when walking down the lane. In this game, patience is definitely a virtue. If it could transfer to my working life, things might be better ...


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